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Optimism John Brown Will Face Ravens

Posted Oct 24, 2015

Notes: Cardinals still blitz often; Food drive takes place at "Monday Night Football"

Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) is dealing with a hamstring issue, and will be a game-day decision on Monday.

John “Smokey” Brown is coming off his best game as a pro. It won’t be decided until Monday if he is going to be able to follow it up against the Ravens.

The Cardinals wide receiver returned to practice on a limited basis Saturday after hamstring trouble earlier in the week kept him out of Friday’s practice. Bruce Arians said Brown – who had 10 catches for 196 yards last week in Pittsburgh -- would be a game-day decision.

“He had a little setback with his other leg, but last week he couldn’t play on Friday and he only caught 200 yards worth,” Arians said. “Hopefully it’s the same (this game).”

Brown was confident he will play.

"I feel pretty good," Brown said. "I'll be ready to go."

The team’s deep receiving corps gives the Cards options even if Brown can’t go. Michael Floyd’s impact would figure to increase, the Cardinals haven’t even used much of Jaron Brown or Brittan Golden, and speedy rookie J.J. Nelson said he is finally close to 100 percent after hurting his shoulder in Chicago Week 2.

Nelson said he wouldn’t doubt he could stretch the field if John Brown was out. He is also anxious to play after the shoulder injury, which came on the same play in which he fumbles away a punt.

“That’s been on my mind for the longest,” Nelson said. “Ever since it happened, having a turnover and getting hurt on the same play, not being able to go right back out and redeem myself, and then sitting out all these weeks. That’s been heavy on my mind.”

Linebacker Alex Okafor (calf) and tight end Darren Fells (shoulder) are out. That leaves the Cardinals will two healthy tight ends going into the game – Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas.

Cardinals wide receiver Brittan Golden was added to the injury report Saturday as limited with a groin injury, but he is probable. For the Ravens, safety Terrence Brooks (thumb), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and tight end Maxx Williams (knee/ankle) are out. Cornerback Asa Jackson (thigh), safety Kendrick Lewis (knee) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (thigh) are questionable.

TO BLITZ OR NOT TO BLITZ

Deone Bucannon said he was blitzing more last season, but then again, he was also only playing in sub-packages as the dollar linebacker on mostly passing plays. It was almost always a blitzing situation. This season, Bucannon is playing every down.

But overall, Bucannon thinks the Cardinals’ use of the blitz hasn’t necessarily dropped off after the defensive coordinator change from Todd Bowles to James Bettcher.

“Depends on the situation and the game plan,” Bucannon said. “Early in the season we were blitzing a lot more than we have the last two games.”

The numbers back that up. The Cardinals, overall, still blitz more on passing plays than the league average, according to profootballfocus.com. On the season, the Cardinals have blitzed on 43.5 percent of passing plays (the league average this season is 30.2 percent.) They dropped off the last two games, blitzing on only 32.1 percent against the Steelers (9 of 28) – not a surprise given that the plan was to keep quarterback Mike Vick contained, preferring he pass it rather than scramble.

That, Bettcher emphasized, came from where the decision to blitz more or less always comes from – the game plan.

“As coaches, we spend hours and hours (on prep) and those hours should be spent putting your guys in the best position to make plays,” Bettcher said.

The pass rush, Bettcher said, often always comes down to a rusher beating a blocker one on one – even with the blitz.

“As a coach, when you insert yourself in the game too much, that’s when you screw it up,” Bettcher said. “You can still do five- and six-man pressures and in the box if they still have enough to block you, you still have to win one on ones.”

FOOD DRIVE AND OPEN PARKING LOTS

The Cardinals and St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance are holding their annual food drive at Monday’s game. The event, presented by Hyundai, will feature volunteers and Cardinals cheerleaders at collection points outside of all five stadium gates and the Great Lawn. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food and/or money to donate.

The Great Lawn and the carparks will be open at 1:30 p.m. Monday in front of the 5:30 p.m. kickoff. Gates open at 4 p.m.

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